November 1, 2017
Glenn Thomsen: Honoured AST Alumni
An athlete, coach and dad who has guided our best women and men to the podium.
The traditional pathway for a youngster to take up skiing is to get to the hill with your parents. But Glenn Thomsen’s ski racing experience has been far from traditional and it has resulted in a stellar list of Canadian athletes reaching Olympian and World Cup heights of excellence.
“I was watching an afternoon kids TV show when I was about 10.” said our Honoured Team alumni. “An ad caught my attention – the first 500 kids to sign up (in Calgary area) could ride the bus from Westbrook shopping centre to Happy Valley Ski Hill, to learn to ski and to race. Mom and dad didn’t ski so a free ride to the hill was perfect. From there 50 kids were selected to go to Pigeon Mountain and from there 5 kids were selected to be members of the Skimeisters of Calgary racing team.”
Under the guidance of Skimeisters Head Coach Ken Marchand (2014 Honoured Builder), Glenn launched into a ski racing career that took him to the Alberta Ski Team. “But my key highlight is still Midget 4 way combined event in Jasper 1966, said Glenn. “They were my first medals and the only medals that I still have in my possession!”
But this was only the beginning of a remarkable success story.
On his retirement as an athlete, Glenn immediately moved into the coaching ranks, moving methodically through the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation system. First as a club coach (Skimeisters 1977-1978) to the Alberta Ski Team (1979-1983), Glenn built his experience and rapport with athletes.
In 1984, Glenn moved to the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, initially with the Development Group, but was elevated to coaching the World Cup Team and was a member of the coaching staff that guided Karen Percy to two Olympic bronze medals (1988) and a World Championship silver (1989), as well as podium results from Laurie Graham, Liisa Savijarvi, Kerrin Lee-Gartner and Lucie Laroche.
After a brief return to the Alberta Ski Team to be closer to home (1990 – 1993), an opening in the Men’s Head Coach position heading into the 1994 Olympic Winter Games moved Glenn to leading two of his previous charges with the Alberta Team: Edi Podivinsky and Cary Mullen. These two Albertans had reached the World Cup podium and under Glenn’s leadership would add another Olympic bronze in Lillehammer along with more World Cup podium results.
Between 1996 and 2000, Glenn again returned to Alberta, coaching the men’s provincial men’s team and then joining a new program launched by Roc Spence, in association with the National Sport School. But again, the Canadian Team came calling, looking for his calm manner and deep experience with the World Cup to this time take on the Men’s Tech Team for two seasons and then the men’s Development Team. The athletes who benefited from this careful mentorship included Thomas Grandi, Brad Spence, Trevor White, Paul Stutz – all of who would subsequently reach the World Cup top 10 or better.
In 2005, Glenn returned for a final time to coaching Next Generation athletes, working with the Men’s BC Ski Team, as National Development Coordinator for Alpine Canada and since 2011 he made it full circle returning to coaching younger athletes at the club level. Since 2012, he has been the U14 coach with Team Panorama.
Glenn has invested fourty years into coaching, at the elite level, coaching next generation champions on Development Teams, shaping talent on two Provincial Ski Teams. He has coached at three Olympic Winter Games and has seen his athletes reach the podium in both speed and tech – both ladies and men. This is a commitment unmatched in Canadian coaching. “Throughout my life involvement with the ski racing community, I was always surrounded by people with a passion for the sport” said Glenn. “This impacted me to value my time spent ski racing and coaching. Ski racing has been my career of choice and life and I’ve been rewarded with lifelong relationships, travelled the world participating in sport and competition, and a quality of life that is priceless.”
And what advice would the coach share with young athletes and their parents? “Stick to the basics, don’t overcomplicate…. I have always thought my last words would be “keep your shoulders level and pressure that outside ski”. It has worked for years and always will. Become a well-rounded person, participate in other sports and academics.”
The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to recognize Glenn Thomsen, our 2017 Honoured Alberta and Canadian Ski Team Alumni, for a lifetime of passion for ski racing and coaching excellence. All Class of 2017 inductees will be presented with special recognition gifts courtesy of JDIMI Consulting Inc.
The Class of 2017 will be inducted at the Hotel Arts in Calgary on Wednesday, November 8th as the feature event of the Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame. This is a free event for all supporters of alpine ski racers.
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